Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 12, 2018

Harold Maass
President Trump at the NATO summit


Trump says NATO allies agreed to spend more on defense

President Trump said Thursday that NATO allies had committed to raising their defense spending above the targeted 2 percent level in an emergency meeting he called. Trump had threatened to "do his own thing" if the members of the alliance did not go along. The comments came on the second day of a NATO summit in Brussels. Earlier Thursday, Trump tweeted that U.S. presidents "have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia." German Chancellor Angela Merkel shot back by saying she had "experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union" growing up in Soviet-dominated East Germany. She added that she was happy Germany was now "united in freedom" and could "make our own decisions." [CNBC, The Associated Press]


Judge orders Manafort moved after boast of jail 'VIP' treatment

A federal judge ordered President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort moved from a Virginia jail after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team said in a court filing Wednesday that Manafort had boasted about receiving "VIP" treatment. "On the monitored prison phone calls, Manafort has mentioned that he is being treated like a 'VIP,'" the filing said. Members of Mueller's team said Manafort, who is accused of tax and bank fraud, had bragged that he had access to a phone and a laptop that is "shuttled in and out of the facility by his team," allowing him to send emails secretly. Manafort also has had a "private, self-contained" living area that is larger than those of other inmates, along with a "workspace to prepare for trial." [New York Post]


Senate passes symbolic vote condemning Trump's tariffs

The Senate on Wednesday voted to keep President Trump's authority in check when it comes to imposing "national security" tariffs. The overwhelming 88-11 vote for the non-binding resolution symbolically condemns Trump's liberal use of the Trade Expansion Act, which has allowed him to inch the U.S. toward a trade war, most recently with Tuesday's tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods. The president also imposed a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of items last week, which some lawmakers believe should have required congressional approval. Wednesday's Senate resolution, introduced by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), was a compromise between senators who want to roll back Trump's abilities with a binding measure, and senators who are wary of upsetting the president. [CNBC, The Daily Beast]


Papa John's founder resigns as chairman over N-word use

Papa John's founder and former CEO John Schnatter resigned as chairman of the pizza chain's board on Wednesday after admitting to using a racial slur during a May conference call. Before stepping down, Schnatter acknowledged and apologized for using the N-word in a call with Laundry Service, a marketing agency he hired to bolster his image after a backlash over his criticism of National Football League protests. Forbes reported that Schnatter had noted during the call that KFC never faced fallout even though "Colonel Sanders called blacks n-----s." News of Schnatter's resignation broke shortly after Major League Baseball reportedly suspended its Papa Slam promotion. Shares of Papa John's fell by as much as 5.9 percent to a one-year low on Wednesday. [CNBC, Forbes]


Twitter moves to purge suspected bot accounts

Twitter will purge tens of millions of fake or suspicious accounts starting Thursday. The move comes in the wake of a January New York Times investigation into a follower farm, which Twitter executives say inspired the company to crack down on fake accounts. Because high follower counts often beget influence in the real world, aspiring influencers would purchase followers en masse, the Times says, and advertisers who sponsored posts with these supposedly influential users soon realized not every follower was a real person and they weren't reaching the numbers they were paying for. Meanwhile, real followers' influence was watered down by bots and phony accounts. Twitter began locking millions of questionable accounts this spring. [The New York Times]


Comcast raises bid for Sky to top Fox offer

Comcast on Wednesday hiked its bid for Britain's Sky pay-TV group to $34 billion, topping the latest offer from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox. The increase in Comcast's all-cash offer came less than a day after Fox raised its offer to $32.5 billion, a 12 percent premium over Comcast's previous offer. Fox has been trying to buy the 61 percent of Sky it doesn't already own since December 2016. The battle over Sky is part of a larger industry scrum to pair content and distribution resources to compete with streaming video giants Netflix and Amazon. [Reuters]


Judge delays Nevada execution after drug company objects to use of its drug

A condemned killer received an 11th-hour reprieve on Wednesday after pharmaceutical company Alvogen sued to block the use of one of its drugs in his lethal injection. A judge ordered a stay of execution after Alvogen argued that the Nevada Corrections Department had obtained the sedative midazolam unlawfully, and that using the product in the three-drug execution protocol would cause "irreparable injury to Alvogen, its reputation, and its goodwill." Nevada corrections officials switched to midazolam last week to replace expired prison supplies of another sedative, diazepam. [CNBC]


Federer out, Nadal and Djokovic advance at Wimbledon

Top-seeded Roger Federer was knocked out of Wimbledon on Wednesday, blowing a third-set match point to lose to No. 8 Kevin Anderson 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11. "It was just one of those days where you hope to get by somehow," said Federer, who last played at No. 1 Court in 2015. "I almost could have. I should have." Two of his long-time rivals, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, advanced into a semifinal showdown. Nadal has won two of his 17 Grand Slam tennis titles at Wimbledon. He beat 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro 7-5, 6-7 (7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Djokovic, who has won three of his 12 major championships from the All England Club, beat No. 24 seed Kei Nishikori 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. [The Associated Press]


Stormy Daniels' lawyer calls her misdemeanor arrest 'politically motivated'

Ohio police arrested adult film actress Stormy Daniels at a strip club early Thursday on charges of illegally touching a patron. Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, tweeted Thursday that Daniels was performing in Columbus when she was arrested for "allegedly allowing a customer to touch her while on stage in a nonsexual manner! Are you kidding me?" Daniels has made headlines for claiming that she had a 2006 affair with Donald Trump, before he entered politics. Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, has acknowledged paying her $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election to be silent about the matter, but Daniels is suing to be released from the agreement. Avenatti tweeted that Daniels' arrest "was a setup & politically motivated. It reeks of desperation." [CNN]


Croatia topples England 2-1 to reach World Cup final

England and Croatia battled Wednesday for the chance to advance to the World Cup final, with Croatia outlasting the Three Lions 2-1 in extra time. England scratched first on a free kick by Kieran Trippier in the fifth minute, but in the 68th minute, Croatia's Sime Vrsaljko booted a cross from the right to Ivan Perisic, who knocked in the score to even the game. Mario Mandzukic scored the game-winner for Croatia in the 109th minute. The win propels Croatia to the tournament final for the first time ever, where they will face France, who punched their ticket to the final Tuesday with a 1-0 win over Belgium. The championship will take place Sunday, July 15. [The Guardian, Sports Illustrated]